We've been waiting a long time to discover what's at the heart of the coalition government's wisdom on this ...
A big lunch, making music together .... so says the Guardian. Eric Pickles puts Big Lunch at heart of effort to unite communities
The English language and Christian faith ... says the Mail. 'We need community cohesion': Ministers' pledge to end era of multiculturalism by appealing to 'sense of British identity'
What the engaging Communities Secretary actually thinks is in the new Integration strategy here: Creating the Conditions for Integration. I haven't read it all, so I am not going to commment yet, as it would be easy to dismiss it and to be honest there does appear to be some good common sense in it.
Not least among its good points is that Luton is singled out for praise!
We strongly encourage the different local partners to work together to drive action and to learn from each other in promoting integration and challenging extremism. Local authorities are well placed to take a leading role working through existing partnerships with the police, other agencies and the business and voluntary sectors.
Local areas need to create opportunity for all and tackle disadvantage by promoting economic regeneration. Alongside this they should ensure that extremist narratives are robustly challenged, that groups and individuals promoting division and prejudice are not implicitly endorsed by engagement or use of public buildings and that early interventions take place in order to protect vulnerable individuals. There have already been many excellent examples of locally-led action to build integration and challenge extremism. For example, both Luton Borough Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council have worked closely with community leaders, the police and politicians in their respective areas to address the problems caused by English Defence League (EDL) marches and protests. Luton hosted a national event alongside the police to help other local areas handle difficult protests involving extreme groups. We are exploring options with these two councils for them to jointly establish and lead a national special interest group to help local areas share experiences and best practice and promote locally driven action.
One cannot do other than take this as a recognition of good practice - and I believe we deserve it. But one cannot help but feel it must be yet another mark of contriteness for the appaling timing demonstrated in delivery of David Cameron's "Multiculturalism has failed" speech in Munich on February 5th, the day Luton was having to deal with a large EDL demonstration. We got a first dose of humble pie when Nick Clegg was allowed to deliver a speech here a few weeks later where he gave us quite a different view from Mr Camerons. We got another dose when a group from the DCLG came to talk to us about the emerging Integration Policy in July. They did actually ask us what we thought as well! Whether it was our input, or the differences of approach in the coalition that delayed the policy (more likely I suspect) the fact that we are mentioned is rather pleasing. Not least that it mentions the role of community leaders.
We'll see what it says -- when we have time aside from actually getting on and dealing with the challenges of life -- and integration -- here ....
... which were admirably portrayed last night on BBC Three by Luton born and bred shop assistant turned minor celeb Stacey Dooley in "My Home Town Fanatics: Stacey Dooley investigates".
Oh, and by the way, without prejudging the report, I do believe eating together is very important in building community. As is making music. And speaking English. And an acknowledgement of the Christian heritage of the British Isles. But I believe there is more.